A lonely woman develops an unhealthy obsession with a celebrity writer. A young man attends the funeral of his gay lover. A feisty woman escapes a life of domestic drudgery. Reshma Ruia’s stories feature characters who confront ageing, love and loss with anger, passion and quiet defiance. They are in search of new beginnings and old certainties; everyday people whose lives oscillate between worlds – geographical, cultural, and emotional – in a constant flux, shaped and reshaped by an imperative to anchor to a map or a feeling.
Researching and putting together Mrs Pinto Drives to Happiness was a joy and a challenge. In this blog written exclusively for Writers and Artists Yearbook I share my process and offer some top tips.
A wonderful evening at Blackwell’s exploring the themes in Mrs Pinto Drives to Happiness with Prof. John McAuliffe from the Centre of New Writing, Manchester University.
Some photos from a reading of Mrs Pinto Drives to Happiness held at Word on the Water in London.
Reviews of Mrs Pinto Drives to Happiness & Interviews
“One of the key strengths of the collection is that in all of the stories Ruia makes readers sympathise with the characters, despite their flaws, faults, and the mistakes they make. It is rare to read a collection where the characters and their personal situations and disillusionment leave a lingering impression for days afterwards. As Ruia’s stories ultimately ask the reader would they have acted any differently?”
Minaal Reads 5 Star rating
‘’Just over a week ago, I opened up Mrs Pinto Drives to Happiness and I couldn’t put it down. This was a memorable short story collection that gave me so much insight into each character, their quirks, their desires, their needs. It was easy to empathise and connect with each character as there was just as much said in between the words as there was in the words. Not only did Reshma Ruia’s characters come alive through her prose, Ruia also managed to get In some brilliant plot twists that I didn’t see coming at all. What kind of author manages to squeeze this all in stories that are 15ish pages long? Reshma Ruia. That’s who.‘’
South Manchester Book Trail Book Club member Mary said, ‘’I have so enjoyed it, her prose is so clear and she almost ‘paints’ the stories her language sets in very vivid scenes. I’m going to miss not reading it.’’
” Full of subtle and incisive observations, the stories stand out for their ability to move the reader, lingering long after the last page is turned.”
“A collection of short stories I adored, written by an author whose lightness of touch, sensitivity and virtuosity absorbed both my heart and my mind, enlarging my world view and encouraging my calloused heart to beat a little more gently.”
“An absolutely brilliant collection of engaging, enticing and captivating reads. Each story unique in its own storytelling with different points of view, places, and relationships. Not afraid to get deep and dark- hard to achieve in a short story but absolutely worked. Vivid imagery and delightful prose. Short storytelling at its very best.”
Emma Hardy on Amazon, 5* Review
“I’ve read and enjoyed Reshma Ruia’s poetry collection, along with her short stories in several anthologies so I settled down to her short story collection “Mrs Pinto Drives To Happiness” with high expectations. I wasn’t disappointed. This is a terrific collection of stories, dropping the reader into to the lives of characters and settings from all over the world. Each story hooked me quickly as I became immersed in the central character’s challenges. Many featured points of change, or a pivotal moment in a character’s life, and often the endings were unexpected, sometimes shocking in their darkness. Ruia writes bravely about the reality of how people are not always what you think or expect, she is not afraid to take a sudden turning and explore the shadowy corners of humanity’s desires and obsessions. Gripping storytelling here and a collection I will return to.”
“It’s rare to find a collection of short stories this engaging.”
“Storytelling At The Edges Of Society
This week I’ve been taken all over the world. From India to the USA, completely submerged in one character’s life. I’ve also seen a murkier side of more familiar places – the fragmented ‘Western dream’ as seen through the eyes of immigrants, refugees and people at the edges of our society.
But the stories in Mrs Pinto Drives To Happiness by Reshma Ruia are more than political. The characters were sharp and vivid, in a way I don’t always find with short stories. I found myself thinking about many of the characters long after I’d turned the page, something that doesn’t usually happen unless I read a whole book about them.”
A thoughtful review of Mrs Pinto Drives to Happiness is featured in the EasternEye 8 October 2021.
‘’These stories explore areas of conflict in contemporary life – the modern versus the traditional or the individual versus the group or the ethical versus the practical. They dramatize the choices made and the effect of these choices on individual lives that are memorably evoked with care and sympathy.’’
“A thrilling, deeply human collection. By turns life affirming and illuminating. “
“Reshma Ruia’s stories are quiet miracles, each of them bringing a sense of sheer accomplishment in both plot and prose. She explores the world of the voiceless, effortlessly bringing to life narratives, which have too often been disregarded. She is a writer of immense power, and her polished, playful sentences take the reader through complex and often heart-breaking human relationships. These stories expand the canon of British Asian literature, crossing cultural boundaries and presenting an innovative and exciting portrayal of modern life.”